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The most widely used alterna
The most widely used alternative to Microsoft Office is an open-source program called OpenOffice, which is sponsored by Sun Microsystems. It's an entire office suite that comprises of a word processor, spreadsheet, presentation, drawing, database and some other applications. It also features Base as an alternative to Access along with two additional applications - Draw and Math.
OpenOffice tries to match all the major features of Microsoft's program. OpenOffice can read files created in Microsoft Office, and it can create new files that can be also open by Microsoft Office or specific files that can only be open in OpenOfficeOrg. So, ideally, you could take home spreadsheets created at work using Excel, and edit on them on your home computer without having to buy Office, or you can create Microsoft Office files at home and take them to work. In practice, OpenOffice lives up to its goal to match Microsoft's product; that is, if you're not too picky. Simple text files and spreadsheets can be moved from one program to another without any obvious changes. Still, a file transferred from OpenOffice to Microsoft Office, or vice versa, might not always look exactly the same, especially if you create complex documents per say word documents with unusual paragraph formatting or spreadsheets. You can make your documents go online with its HTML export to the web feature, or publish them in PDF format to preserve the layout for print.
Other new feature in OpenOffice include multi-pane view, new custom shapes (compatible with Microsoft AutoShapes), more slide transitions and animation effects, enhanced PDF export, new enhanced database front-end, mail merge wizard, enhanced word count feature, support for nested tables, digital signatures support, XForms support, WordPerfect filters, 65536 rows in Calc, enhanced PivotTable support, native installers, native desktop integration, floating toolbars and of course the open standards XML file format.
OpenOffice's Writer is pretty much a modern, fully equipped word processor. It is simple enough for a quick memo and powerful enough to create complete books with diagrams and indexes, etc. You can easily create standard documents such as letters, faxes, agendas, minutes and mail merges make your tasks easier and efficient. It also includes a spell checker, an auto-correct option, an auto-complete like feature and auto formatting.
Impress is much more than a replica of MS PowerPoint with a neater and easier to understand layout. It's a truly outstanding tool for creating effective multimedia presentations. Your presentations will stand out with 2D and 3D clip art, special effects, animation, and high-impact drawing tools. A complete range of views such as drawing, outline, slides, notes and handouts are supported to meet all the needs of presenters and audiences, plus an optional multi-pane view to put all the tools at your fingertips. Most remarkable feature of this application is its ability to directly export your presentations to Flash (SWF) animations, making them ready for publishing over the net.
Base is a new way to maintain databases which enables you to manipulate data seamlessly within OpenOffice. You can create and modify tables, forms, queries, and reports, either using your own database or its built-in HSQL database engine. Base offers a choice of available wizards, design views, or SQL Views for beginners, intermediate, and advanced users. With Base, you can create new tables for your data and also change them as your needs change. Base also supports many popular database technologies including ADO, Microsoft Access, MySQL or any database through industry standard ODBC and JDBC drivers. It also supports any LDAP compliant address book as well as common formats such as Outlook, Windows and Mozilla. In short, Base is a full fledged database manager and an excellent alternative to MS Access.
Calc is the spreadsheet program which is an alternative to MS Excel. It's an all-purpose spreadsheet, and an easy to learn application with a conventional layout as found in Excel. The wizards guide you through choosing and using a readily available comprehensive range of advanced spreadsheet functions.
Draw lets you create quick sketches and also some pretty complex plans. It gives you the tools to communicate with graphics and diagrams for enhanced output. It's built in styles and formatting feature puts all your graphics styles at your finger tips.
Math is another component of this suite which is used to create mathematical equations and formulas for your documents. It is most commonly used as an equation editor for text documents, but it can also be used with other types of documents or as a stand alone application. Its ready integration within the Writer, Calc and Impress lets you insert the equation as an object inside these documents. It brings in an ease in finding a solution to these complicated calculations with automated formulas with few simple clicks.
Pluses: A major plus is that OpenOffice is free since it is an open source project. Among its notable improvements, we may consider the possibility of publishing documents in PDF format to preserve the layout for print, the remarkable feature of this application is its ability to directly export your presentations to Flash (SWF) animations.
Drawbacks / flaws: OpenOffice does not include an E-mail client and organizer similar to Outlook; this could be a major drawback for corporate clients who manage large contact databases and need an integrated solution for e-mail clients and address book management. Another inconvenience is that Open Office is slower than its Microsoft counterpart when it comes to opening files. We can also notice the lack of a scanner image acquisition component.
In conclusion: OpenOffice is a multiplatform and multilingual office suite project, offering an obvious economic benefit for use for any individual or an organization over commercial solutions. Since it is an open-source product, OpenOffice is free, easy to use and fluidly interoperable with every major office suite. Download it now, regardless of the fact that you might be a home or corporate user. The results are simply stunning.
version reviewed: 2.0.1
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